|The chances of boom Victorian colt Bel Esprit
continuing his unbeaten run in Saturday's $1 million AAMI Blue Diamond Stakes have been
boosted after the sensational youngster drew a perfect barrier this morning.
The John Symons trained colt was already a hot odds-on favourite for
Saturday's feature event at Caulfield, but after being alloted barrier three his chances
seemed to have been further enhanced.
Over the weekend there was major speculation that the colt
had gone amiss in training but the rumours have been squashed by the stable.
"We've been hounded by the press over the weekend
telling us he'd broken down," Macedon Lodge's John Symons said.
"But there's absolutely nothing wrong with
him. In fact he couldn't be better going into Saturday," he added.
The Bel Esprit story is very much like a fairytale. For
connections it certainly is as everything has gone to plan.
A bad-legged yearling the colt by Royal Academy was entered
in the Inglis Classic Yearling Sale in Sydney just over a year ago.
It was Symons who found the youngster when he was inspecting
a large draft of yearlings for Macedon Lodge. Although the colt did have noticably bad
legs and seemed to throw his forelegs in a strange style it didn't both Symons.
"He was just such a striking type. Sure his legs weren't
that great but then again there's been so many great horses in the past with bad legs and
problems, so I wasn't really that worried," Symons recalls.
The strong colt cost Symons only $9,000. The colt is owned by
a wide cross section of men. One of the owners is none other that brilliant AFL coach
Kevin Sheedy, the man who leads Victoria's current premier side Essendon.
There was a big wrap on the colt when he made his
long awaited debut at Moonee Valley in a listed race on Cox Plate Day. While most of the
crowd was there to see the clash between Sunline, Northerly, Universal Prince and Silvano
in the Cox Plate, it was Symons who was champing at the bit to see just how his youngster
would run earlier in the day.
Bel Esprit's win was never in doubt. Quickly jumping to the
front of the field he dashed clear of his rivals and set up a big break before cruising
home under the soft hands of veteran jockey Wayne "Smokey" Treloar.
"Smokey," who does most of the riding for Macedon
Lodge, has been on the colt at every start since and he will again partner the exitement
machine on Saturday.
It was off to Group class next for the colt and the most
famous track in Australia, fabulous Flemington. There's no better time in racing that
November and the Cup Carnival at Flemington and Bel Esprit was to make another big
impression by scoring his second effortless win from as many starts.
Given an eleven week break the colt wasn't seen at the track
until he annihilated a Group class field in the Blue Diamond Preview at his first run at
Caulfield - the scene of Saturday's big one. Never getting out of second gear the
performance made even the seasoned racegoer shake their head in disbelief.
While the final 200 metres of any race a trainer can
get very excited when their charge maybe going to be in the finish, it wasn't the case for
Symons when the colt streaked clear of his rivals in the Preview. There was no need for
cheering, all Symons did was sit back and relax in his cheer and clap his charge to a four
and a half length slaughter.
The final lead up for the million dollar event for the colts
and geldings is tradionally the Diamond Prelude a fortnight before the feature event.
Symons wasn't sure whether the Prelude would be a required race for his star, but after
assessing his fitness it was decided Bel Esprit would have another run.
Another run! Goodness me it was nothing more than a track
gallop. Despite never seeming comfortable in the wet and sticky conditions, Bel Esprit
never got out of first gear cruising home to win by a length and a half. Had it not been
for Treloar's boot being firmly on the brake the effort of the second placegetter Cool
Trent would not have looked so impressive. Put simply the one and a half length margin
could easily have been five!
Never before has a horse had such of a boom going
into the Diamond since the champion juvenile Rancher did when he lined up in the 1200
metre event in 1982.
As history now shows Rancher proved the good judges right
back 20 years ago by scoring an effortless win and Bel Esprit is set to do likewise in
If there is one word to currently describe this excitement
machine from Macedon Lodge it is simply "unbeatable." And Saturday should
further enhance that huge wrap.
PICS - Quentin